Brief history of St Patrick's Day Charity Classic...

St Patrick’s Day Charity Classic is an annual golf tournament hosted by
St Patrick’s Day Golf Classic Charitable Trust

The very first event, in 1989, was staged as a fund-raiser for computer equipment for Carmel College. The Tournament raised over $6,100 of which $5,000 was passed to Carmel, $595 to the Wilson Home and $500 to Koru Care.  This figure was achieved through the generous support of Guinness (Peter Andrewes was responsible for the brand at that time) and through the involvement of numerous businessmen who had relationships with Carmel, or with the original organisers, Peter Andrewes, Martin Kirwan and Nick Launder, with Patrick Flynn acting as Cultural Attaché and MC.  120 players took part, each paying $100.  This figure covered golf and a formal dinner in the North Shore Golf Clubhouse with, of course, an array of sought after prizes.

"The Originals" - The loyal supporters who played in the inaugural tournament on Friday 17 March 1989.
Front: Nick Launder, Patrick Flynn
Middle: Bob Nelligan, Rodney Walshe, Greg Ward, Ken Noble, Gary Monk
Rear: Chas Dickens, Les Austin, Len Storck, Matt Franich, David Lakin, Brian Armstrong*, David Ambler, Brian Stredder

* Brian is representing North Shore Golf Club here as President


The Tournament was such a success (by general acclamation) that it was decided to make it an annual event.  The organising committee focused on raising funds to support needy individuals.  In particular, these were people who could not gain assistance through normal channels.  By this time, Martin Kirwan was making plans to move to Sydney where he set up a sister tournament.

The Tournament has followed a similar format each year.  Up to 160 players take part, the great majority of whom return from previous years.  Many choose to sponsor holes (at an additional cost of $100) and all agree that the current playing fee of $175 per person provides exceptional value.  Each player receives a commemorative playing shirt (this has become a collectors item) and glass, suitably embossed with the Guinness and St Patrick’s Day Charity Classic logos, along with two golf balls.  A light lunch is served before tee-off (oysters and Guinness - or lesser fare for the weaker mortals) after which players complete their rounds before meeting at the Clubhouse that evening for the Formal Dinner and Prize Giving.  This is fully catered, with a 4 course meal, wine and Guinness included in the entry fee.  Other drinks are at individuals’ own cost.

Highlights of the event include the Ceremonial Tee-Off.  This is performed each year by the Honorary Consul General of Ireland, Rodney Walshe ONZM, using an authentic Irish hurley stick and ball (the Gaelic words are "camán" and "sliotar"). This signifies the start of the Tournament and is saluted by raised pints and attempts by others to wield the hurley to greater effect than Rodney.  In the evening, Rodney returns to be our Guest Speaker and always proves extremely popular with his mix of Irish folklore and gentle humour.

Each year, the most sought after prize is the Guinness golf bag together with the perpetual trophy. These are presented to the overall winner who enjoys the envy of all other players.  Prizes are awarded for other golfing achievements, but the emphasis is primarily on participation and lending support to worthy causes.  A number of speeches occur through the night, with the President of the North Shore Golf Club thanking all for their attendance and the organising committee thanking all, particularly sponsors, for their generous support.

Through the years, a number of people have been assisted in different ways.  There is no fixed amount to be given, for example -

  • A student of the Wilson Home was presented with an electric typewriter to help her develop communication skills.
  • An intellectually handicapped person who was robbed in the street was presented with a new wallet and a sum of cash to help defray his losses.
  • A young boy received assistance toward the cost of an eye operation, when all normal channels seemed to be closed to him.
  • A young lady who had lost her leg after being dragged beneath a train was presented with a wheelchair after ACC decreed that she was sufficiently mobile (!) to not need one.
  • Another Wilson Home patient was given a radio/cassette player as music was an important part of his therapy.
  • A solo parent with a wheelchair bound daughter had her car replaced and insured after it was stolen and burned.  It was uninsured.
  • Individual children with major reading disabilities were sponsored to participate in the “Third Chance Programme” with the assistance of the Child Literacy Foundation
  • As recently as November 2006 a young 18 year old with severe juvenile arthritis was supplied a computer to try and help him express his communications.

These examples demonstrate the diverse causes and persons who we have been able to help.  They come to our attention through the media, or through approaches from those who have associations with our Tournament.  Wherever possible, we seek further assistance from those who play in the Tournament so that we may maximise our contribution.  (An example of this is the wheelchair presented to Jo-ann O’Callaghan - one of our sponsors who imports wheelchairs not only provided a very sleek model at an equally sleek price, but also took the trouble to return Jo-ann’s temporary clunker to the Tauranga Hospital.) We also work closely with Elizabeth Soper QSO from Creative Abilities & Associates who often brings to our attention the plight of the desperately needy.


Most who play in the St Patrick’s Day Charity Classic are leaders in their business field and represent companies such as Glengarry Wines, Bushmills Irish Whiskey, Pak’n’Sav, Mathias International, Intersea, Pilot Writing Instruments, Richmond Storage & Business Centre, Wilson Hellaby, Allied Medical, Amalgamated Hardware Merchants, Autex Industries, Benefitz Advertising & Graphics, Eden Park Trust Board, Gibson & O’Connor, Golf Gear NZ, and (of course) Guinness - to name but a few.  Many use the event to bring clients or business associates, as they see the Tournament as extremely prestigious.  In fact, and in all modesty, many have commented that it is the best value, best run, most enjoyable business house golf event in New Zealand - and who are we to argue?

In 1996, the St Patrick’s Day Charity Classic became a Registered Charitable Trust.  This step was taken to formalise many factors and to ensure funds raised are disbursed correctly.  Our logo, designed in 1988, has been registered as a Trademark.

In 2003 the Trust announced the inception of the The Fianna Scholarships, in association with the Outward Bound Trust. At the start of 2004 we, for the first time, sent two young people to undertake a 3 week Mind, Body, Soul course at Outward Bound at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds. The inaugural Scholarshop winners – Courtney Miller of Westlake Girls High School and Paul Hellyer of Rosmini College returned from Outward Bound having gained invaluable lifeskills which the Trust believes will contribute immensely to their personal growth.


The name Fianna derives from the band of warriors led by mythical hero Fionn Mac Cumhaill which protected the High King of Ireland in pre-Christian times. Fianna applicants underwent initiatory ordeals requiring exceptional prowess and dexterity. In addition to supreme physical skills, the applicants also needed to be versed in twelve books of poesy.

The value of the Tournament to Guinness has been significant.  Particularly in the early years as the brand sought to become established in New Zealand, we helped promote awareness and consumption.  This was not just on the day but also via the approximately 6 months of each year that we are in touch with our invited guests.  Through this time we have enjoyed immense support from the Guinness Brand Managers, commencing with Peter Andrewes and Craig Orr, then Chris Conway, Steve Myers, Mike Collins, Peter Coombes, Matthew Tapper and now Philip Doyle.  Geoff Plews, Celia Ryan and Cadell Buss have also been strong supporters, and have contributed much to our success.

A particular mention must be made of the significant contribution Nick Launder, a former Trustee, has made to the success of the golf tournament and the Trust. For many years, his witty letters of invitation have been a highlight for our many supporters, and his creative flair and organising ability gave our tournament a flavour many have tried to copy, surely the highest accolade of all. Thanks Nick.

The Tournament is always held at the North Shore Golf Club, usually on the last Friday in February, the month before that of St Patrick! In this way, we ensure our Tournament does not conflict directly with the many events that surround St Patrick’s Day.  This is much appreciated by Rodney Walshe who becomes extremely busy at this time.  Rodney views our Tournament as an integral part of St Patrick’s Day celebrations and treats it as the commencement of the festivities.


The Trustees of St. Patrick’s Day Golf Classic Charitable Trust, Patrick Flynn, Bob Nelligan and Gary Monk invite you to become part of our team to enjoy what has become one of the finest Golf Tournaments on the Charitable Golf Calendar.

Further information on the St Patrick’s Day Charity Classic can be obtained from Gary Monk, telephone 489 9556, or (021) 952158, or email:, or addressed to St Patrick’s Day Charity Classic, PO Box 33-1430, Takapuna, Auckland.